Lavina Lawrence, Senseye Business Operations & HR manager, Southampton, UK
Could you say a little about yourself and your background?
Hi. My name’s Lavina Lawrence, I’m a Business Operations and HR manager here at Senseye.
I come from Southampton, in the UK, where I live with my husband and 12-year-old son.
I graduated from Southampton University with a CIPD level 5 and I’m an expert in project management with a Prince2 qualification.
My background is in business project management and HR where I have over 25 years’ experience working for both public and private organisations.
Why did you decide to join Senseye?
I joined Senseye in December of 2017 as their HR & Business Operations Manager. At that time, my family life was becoming less demanding as my little boy was growing up, freeing up more time to consider new opportunities and take on a new challenge to develop and leverage my professional skill sets further.
I decided to join Senseye because everything about the company vision and product they created was really exciting. I saw that they were offering the potential for me to own a specific area of the business as part of the role, where I could lead the implementation of the HR and business operations.
At that time there were much fewer employees, and everything had to be set-up in terms of policies and procedures - a new kind of challenge I was looking for. I knew my 25 years’ experience in business operations and HR would be best served here and that I would make a difference in their growing and dynamic workplace. Playing an active role as part of Senseye’s journey and success story is what I was looking for.
On top of finding a personal challenge, what made me want to join Senseye was the hiring and line manager: Senseye’s CEO, Simon Kampa. Simon has a unique management style. He trusts and empowers his employees. When given that opportunity I really did feel empowered, it was like a breath of fresh air - anyone who has worked for a large private or public sector company will know that such a level of responsibility in implementing corporate policies is not common.
Usually this role is a very complex process and even a simple policy implementation or decision can take months of meetings to get signed off. At Senseye I can put the relevant practices in place and make my own decisions or lead a cross functional team to execute these projects to success. Up to this day I am so happy and pleased to say I love my job and the people I work with. I know this is rare these days, so I am grateful I was able to join Senseye.
What is your role at Senseye?
My role is HR and Business Operations Manager. I manage the entire personnel and business operations. I manage all the employee retention programs and focus on the wellbeing of the employees. With the specific tools I have implemented, I can make sure that employees are rewarded and acknowledged for the hard work, collaboration, and positive attitude they contribute to the business.
I also support remote workers. A flexible working environment and remote working have been core values at Senseye right from the start, so I make sure to connect with remote workers and check employee wellbeing, as remote working can be challenging at times. As a HR professional you must consider how you can best support these employees, who will have different needs to those working in the office. Promoting Senseye’s culture and values is a part of my role that I love. By ensuring we all practice and celebrate our values, I can bring people within the organisation together.
My role in general is very reactive, you need to act quickly and be able to provide support and advice for employees, managers, leadership team and co-founders. The key to being a good operational manager is putting in place the relevant practices, supported with policies, to provide that support for senior management and all staff. The need to ensure we act lawfully and have practices in place to be fit for purpose in supporting the company is essential.
I also manage business operations which incorporates finance. This also means I ensure the company has all the relevant legal documentations in place.
All of this keeps me very busy, but I enjoy it every day. No day is ever exactly the same, but I’m always able to work with staff who are friendly and caring. Everyday is a new challenge with something new to learn.
What does remote working mean to you in terms of your work and life?
Remote working provides me a good work life balance. I have the freedom to be home when there is a need and can easily support my family commitments. Any working parent knows a school calendar, especially any special events, can interfere with a straight 7.5hr day. I can be there when my son gets home from school. I can cook a nice family meal so we can sit down together - not many families have that time together. I can also watch my son on his annual sports day or Christmas play - I feel lucky that remote working has given me the opportunity to create so many family memories. I cannot stress enough how remote working gives everyone the freedom to manage their day, giving individuals time to look after their health & well-being.
This type of workflow can only be achieved through trust and being self-disciplined. I know what needs to be done and by when and I, like all the employees of Senseye, deliver work on time. We understand as a company people don’t have to work 9-5, some people work better in the mornings, some work better in the afternoon and evenings. I feel that, as a company, we promote a culture of respect, clarity, and spirit, so it’s important to have those values realised and practised rather than just being a brand for marketing purposes.
Working remotely also gives me the time to focus and concentrate on certain tasks, especially when dealing with confidential matters. Overall remote working is one of the best benefits a company can provide, but with my ‘HR head’ on, there needs to be trust and self-discipline to ensure the work is getting done and this practice is successful.
What are your top tips for successful remote working?
As a remote employee, I’ve developed personal habits over the years that help me work successfully, but I also hope I can offer advice to HR managers dealing with remote workers.
To the HR professionals I would say that promoting remote working can be successful for a company if the right tools and policies are in place. Promoting collaboration and communication between different teams ensures everyone is working to the same goal. Objectives are key. You need to be available to provide help and assistance when people need it.
Below are my top tips for employees based on my experience:
- Plan your day, I love a to-do list.
- Block out your calendar for time to concentrate, so you don’t get disturbed, mute your company social networks (Slack, Teams etc.).
- Separate your working area and family area so you can concentrate.
- Make sure you still talk on a more casual basis to your work colleagues.
Most importantly, if you find this type of working difficult, I recommend talking to your HR leader or reaching out to your line manager for support.
One last thing to keep in mind, if you were sitting in an office you would be accessible for general conversations, so when working remotely make an effort to make yourself visible for the times people need to chat.
Read more about remote working at Senseye with other articles in the series: "My Top Tips on Remote Working".